When Your Host Mom is a Stripper

by cv harquail on July 1, 2010

Host moms and dads have a lot of interesting occupations, and habits. On this blog, we’ve got police officers, massage therapists, teachers, managers, writers, dog breeders, and more. But up until this comment, below, I never thought any of us host parents … well, here’s the comment:

This isn’t really to ask for advice, more like a question/rant:

Ny HM has this weird (and annoying) habit of stripping down and walking around in her underwear.

For example, yesterday, she came home early and ate dinner with the kids, and she spilled some sauce on her nightdress, so she literally just peeled it off right there in the kitchen and walked to her bedroom in her underwear. She does this ALL the time!

Does anybody else do this in their house with the AP around? I live in an independent room on the top floor of their building, so it’s not like I live with them, I think it’s strange (and really really awkward; I wish she would stop) that she does it even when I’m around.201007010700.jpg

Anyway, I’m leaving in another 3 weeks, so I don’t care, but I just wanted to know what others thought! :)

Pa host mom of Two au-pairs was first on the scene, and offers this advice:

I haven’t heard this one before HP stripping down, you more so hear on the blog about HP speaking to the Ap to dress in appropriate clothing.

The only advice I would give if you don’t feel comfortable now speaking to her about, tell her upon your departure how it made you feel so the next AP doesn’t have to deal with this situation too.

Parents, any suggestions for this au pair?

1cm Strips from Georgie Sharp


Euromom July 1, 2010 at 10:02 am

Hey – as my AP will testify I am also a “stripper” – and here is my opinion.

It’s my house, and I will behave the way I feel comfortable in it and no I really don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable.

I pay a huge mortgage, electric, gas, water, property tax, etc to enjoy my house and I will enjoy it.

If my AP came to me and said she had a problem with this (not that she would) my reply – your problem – you deal with it.

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

Well, for the time she’s an AP in your family, that’s you au pair’s home too!
What if she decided she felt confortable wearing only her underwear around the house???

anonmom July 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I would have to agree with Amelie, my first thought when you said it was your house was simply the fact that it is also the au pair’s house for that year. If you feel it is appropriate to strip down like that with all around, others views’ may differ. That is why it is considered a cultural exchange- you learn about other’s cultural, religious views, etc.

MeAgain July 1, 2010 at 11:38 am

Would this also apply for Host Dad? Since it’s his home does he also have the right to walk around the house in his underwear…or naked if that’s what he likes?

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

Just want to be clear – I mean if she had a problem to me “stripping” down. And by stripping down I mean underwear – but if you read the posts on this site often you will know that my AP was very familiar with me for a few months as I was still breast feeding!

Host Mommy Dearest July 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

Well, this is not something I would do in general. I prefer modesty for myself, other than for breast feeding, which I did just about anywhere my babies were hungry – nevermind just at home. Also, my house is sort of like Grand Central Station and random people could be coming and going at any time, so while it may be a bit wierd for my AP to see me in my underwear, it would be really wierd for my dog walker to get that show. Trying to put myself in the AP’s shoes – what would I think/do if my HM did that? I honestly think if my HM were all fine & comfortable with doing it that I would shrug it off and possibly attempt to say something humorous. I would probably think she is a fruitcake, but there are lots of fruitcakes I like.

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

Not the first time someone would have thought I was a fruitcake either!

My 2 cents July 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

I agree. Just ignore it. Yes, it is a double standard because she would probably have an issue if you did this in front of her, the kids, and HD, but you are leaving shortly so just grin and bear it. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue. If you weren’t leaving I’d be tempted to suggest you do the most uncomfortable and force the issue by taking off some clothes yourself and walking around and see what happens then.

CS Nanny July 1, 2010 at 10:35 am

I’m sorry, Euromom, but your reply was really insensitive. Yes, it is your house, but it is also the aupairs. You do not have the right to make her uncomfortable just because you feel you can do what you want. You CHOSE to open up your home to someone for a year, and therefore you lost the right to do whatever you want.

hOstCDmom@gmail.com July 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

I disagree CSNanny –
While I would not take the same approach as Euromom, and think HP should be sensitive to their APs feelings, it is not the AP’s house in the same way it is the HPs. This may simply be a different take on the AP program, and that’s fair enough, but there are many things the AP cannot do in my house that I can do — we are not equals re the house/home.

(My AP can’t paint her room, can’t change the curtains/bedding, may not put things on the walls other than on the bulliten board, she can’t move the furniture (in her room or elsewhere), she can’t have male guests over upstairs, but HP can, she has a curfew, we don’t, she doesn’t get to choose what we eat for dinner (she can make her own dinner/eat what she wants, of course, but the general fare on offer is not up to her) etc.)

I’m not trying to be pedantic, but rather point out that at least in my home there are many conditions that make it clear that the AP is not on par with the HP vis a vis the rules and the home. Our APs know this coming into the game, so I feel it is fair. It might not work for every AP, but that is why we (HP and AP) mutually choose each other. If the AP is uncomfortable with something, she can certainly say something, but the HP can say just what Euromom did — “my home, my way, I’m not willing to change — so live with it or we rematch”. Again, I personally would not feel as Euromom does about the “stripping” issue, and it would make *me* uncomfortable to make another person in my home uncomfortable about what I was wearing, but I could see other issues where something I do might not sit well with the AP and frankly the AP can either suck it up and live with it, or we can part ways. A good example might be that we keep our home very cool in the winter — cooler than average. This is in part due to heating costs (we live in a several hundred year old, huge rambly, drafty house in the northeast) but mostly due to the fact that we *LIKE* it cool – thermostat set at around 60-62 degrees farenheit — hotter than that and we are too hot, uncomfortable, bothered by what we feel is stifling heat. I’m sure I’ve had APs that would like it warmer, but my feeling is that it is my home and I choose the temperature — and they can put on a sweater/wear layers/tights and use more blankets at night etc. I’m sure that some aupairmom posters out there are now going to lambast me for my unfairness, but I do feel that opening my home to an AP does not mean bringing another adult into my home with equal “voting rights” on issues in the home.

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 11:14 am

I agree that you cannot consider that au pair and HP are equals in the house, even considering that’s the au pair’s home for a year. But I do think that having an au pair in the house changes a few things.

In the same way AP gives up a lot of things when she moves in with a HF to take care of their kids – living near everyone they love, moving to another country, having to hear the kids noise at 8am on their Sunday off, etc -, I think it’s only fair that the HF gives up a few little things – like walking around wearing nothing but underwear – to make the AP’s stay more confortable.

hOstCDmom July 1, 2010 at 11:22 am

I agree with this —
and I know we have (willingly) changed habits etc. due to the presence of an AP. I think that the rub is with the definition of “little things”…what is little to one person may be monumental to another…To me (but likely not Euromom), having to put on a robe rather than stagger down to get my coffee in my ratty, thin pjs, is a little thing – if the AP weren’t here I wouldn’t bother with the robe, but because she is, I do.

But some might say, turning up the thermostat isn’t a big deal if it makes your AP more comfortable — and it probably isn’t to *them*….but it is to *me*, and it is my home, and I’m not willing to be hot in my own home even if the AP doesn’t like it and even if I’m objectively out of the mainstream norm on what is hot. I’ve had APs say it is cold in the house and my response is “yes, it is”.

CS Nanny July 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

There is a big difference between someone walking around almost in the nude, and a thermostat or painting rooms. An aupair realizes that she will have rules to deal with. But having to figure out how to tell her HM to put on clothes because she is uncomfortable is probably difficult. You hire someone for the “cultural experience” yet aren’t overally concerned with cultural differences. Situations like this make me laugh because HFs play the “we want a memeber of the family” card, yet, when something like this comes up, suddenly “it’s my house…I can do what I want.” Irregardless of the fact that you chose to invite someone else to live with you, and should realize that some things need to change.

hOstCDmom July 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

Is there? Isn’t it just a cultural norm/difference in comfort level re wearing one’s underwear around the house? What if an AP is uncomfortable with HPs who swear? or pray before meals or other times during the day? or share extreme political or social views?

Playing devil’s advocate…maybe some HP aren’t looking so much for a member of the family – our agency tells us to be upfront on this point, that some HF are looking for that, and others are not, that either option is OK, and there are AP candidates who are also interested in more or less of a “member of the family” experience…

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

The thermostat issue, in my opinion, is easier to deal with. AP just puts on a sweater – that’s what I used to do… I’m from Brazil! I’m always cold if it’s less than 70F! – and everything should be ok.

I think that the underwear issue is a little bit more complicated. I personally wouldn’t mind that much if my HP walked around in their underwear – which btw they didn’t, but I know some of my friends would feel very disturbed.

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

My reply was designed to be insensitive. I really don’t care if an AP has an issue with me stripping off. (my current AP doesn’t)

But if she did then it is her problem – and if this is was the only issue she had with my behaviour as in all else was going well, – then she is a very lucky girl.

PA AP mom July 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm


I guess if you meant it to be insensitive then you did a REALLY good job!!!

It’s not like the AP has other options while she lives with you in your home.

I agree that it’s not an equal partnership, but she should be allowed a certain input into her own “comfrort” level.

PA AP mom July 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

that was supposed to be “comfort” level in the last sentence!

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 11:49 am

Everything we hear from the agency when we’re applying for an au pair position is that we have to be tolerant, consider cultural differences, be willing to change and adapt.

And I agree. If we’re willingly moving into someone else’s house, in another country, that’s the minimum we should do. After all, at least for me, getting to know the way a american family lives, and more than that, being in a certain way part of it, was a big part of the au pair program.

And now I wonder how much are the families willing to change or adapt.Aren’t they also interested in the cultural aspects of the program? Aren’t they willing to change a bit to accomodate a young woman from a different country?

As I already said, we gave up a lot to be au pairs. And we make, or at least should make, the family’s needs concerning childcare our priority during our year (I know I did). Should it count? Shouldn’t the HF feel ok to make a few sacrifices if it means a lot to us?

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Willing to adapt and change … let me just be very clear about this – my AP has no problem with me…

But we do AP nights – have had all her friends stay over regularly – the last girl stayed with us for days. She was due to return home and found it more comfortable to stay with us rather than her HP’s. This is normal in my house.

I have given AP driving lessons – am encouraging her to do her test – have promised to pay for it IF she passes, ensured that she everything she needs, had her family stay with us, paid for her ticket home to visit her family (as a treat) and yes – we are painting her room the colour she wants – (x if you are reading this I promise to buy the paint this weekend ;)) and guess what – she is treated like part of the family. I honestly adore the girl.

However in my family, in my home, if my little one spills/slops over me then I take off my top… end off.. If I’m getting ready and am running late I will ironing my top in my underwear, I;ll sit at the kitchen table chatting to AP while doing my make up – it’s not a big deal.

If this was a problem for my AP then she would have to weigh this up and decide – and sorry folks if she left my house over this particular reason then she was never “right” for us to begin with.

PA AP mom July 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I guess if you put it like that, with it being an occasional thing such as a soiled dress, then it’s not as bad. I was thinking of the host mom regularly walking around in just her underwear.

Also, a bra with pants/skirt on is different (for me) than naked except for bra and panties.

CS Nanny July 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

So because she doesn’t want to see you in your undies, she wasn’t right for your family? Wow. I certainly hope you share that in the matching process then. And I guess I’m not right for the current family I work for, or any other for that matter, because I prefer to look at my employers with their clothes on.

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Maybe that is the difference – you are looking for an employer whereas I am treating my AP like a member of the family.

CS Nanny July 1, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Actually, I’m a live-in, and am part of the family. Still doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it, or that somebody else would be.

Hula Gal July 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm

If you aren’t comfortable with the behavior of your “employer” or “host family” (if you are an au pair) and they are not willing to change than you can quit/go into rematch. Simple as that. This is the beauty of being free.

Hula Gal July 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I think the au pairs should keep in mind that they may only have to make their accomodations for one year. The host parents need to make their accommodations in lifestyle for as long as they participate in the program which could be for many years. Host families sacrifice privacy for the sake of childcare for their children. I do believe that host families need to accept some degree of modification to how they live in their home but only up to the point that they are willing to do. After that, it just becomes a situation of host family treating the au pair as a houseguest and not as a member of the family/household. Who really wants to live with a houseguest for one or more years? Not me! If you love your au pair and she expresses discomfort with something and you are willing to adjust to make her more comfortable than go for it. If it is a dealbreaker for you than she is going to have to put up with it or go into rematch. That’s just how it is. The host parent knows that if they hold tight to behavior that makes an au pair uncomfortable than they risk rematch but they are clearly willing to take the chance of rematch to hold on to some of their lifestyle choices that are important to them. It’s a choice and it may not be fair but that is life.

Aupairgal July 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Very well put Hula Mom!

MeAgain July 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I think that for us (aupairs) Euromom might have sounded a little “harsh” with her first comment, but now she cleared things up with her last comment (not that she had to…) and we know she is a wonderful HM. The important part of all of this is that when small problems like this come up (walking around in underwear, house being too cold, etc.) it’s important the way you let your au pair know that it’s something you’re not willing to change, it’s hard enough for her to feel uncomfortable with this, having to tell you and then, to top it off, receiving an answer like “your problem – you deal with it.”

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I agree! I know most HF that post here do a lot already!

Sorry, if the au pair doesn’t feel ok with that, she can always ask for a rematch… But it sounded VERY harsh! “your problem – you deal with it.” sounded like “I don’t care about your opinion and the way you feel”.

I didn’t want to offend anyone – specially not you, Euromom -, just maybe start a discussion about what HF are willing to change in their lives in order to live with a third adult in their house.

Amelie ex au pair July 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Ooops, disconsider that “sorry” in the beggining of second paragraph!

Dosi July 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this conversation.

I would like to be another voice to back up Euromom here. I don’t walk around topless in my house, but I do roam the halls at night in my underwear and a t-shirt. HD is often in a pair of athletic shorts when he responds to screaming infant at 2a, or 6a. We rarely cross paths with the AP at midnight, but I would expect her to understand that these are our standards of decency.

That is what this comes down to, in my opinion: Standards (morals, culture, values, etc.). In my house, you are expected to respect and tolerate my standards. That can mean the amount we feel it is necessary to be clothed, the language we use around children, the presence or absence of male overnight visitors, etc. You are here to be immersed in another culture, and we spend considerable effort (emotional and financial) to see that you have that experience. I would love to hear about your culture, share your special days with you and broaden my worldview. I didn’t import you so that I could be immersed in your values.

We are a fairly liberal household. We try to communicate that effectively during matching. If the way we conduct ourselves bothers our AP, she certainly may voice her concerns. It is not important to me to walk around in my underwear and I am willing to put a robe on. However, there are many other areas where I am unwilling to compromise or alter my home’s culture. (We would never remove the wine from the dinner table, for example.)

Taking a Computer Lunch July 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm

HD and I don’t wear pajamas, and if The Camel wakes up in the middle of the night, we do usually grab something, but if it’s her feeding pump alarm signaling that the bolus bag is empty, I admit, I wear nothing to go downstairs to turn it off. As it usually goes off around 3:00, I’ve only had one close call to date. I’m not skinny, so it’s a sight no AP wants burned into her retinas.

I do walk around in my swimsuit in the summer – it’s too much of a hassle to get in and out of damp suit. Most of my APs are about as modest as I, so no one has ever asked me to stop, and I’ve only made positive comments on their outfits or I say nothing. We had one AP who came upstairs in the morning in boxers and t-shirts and I thought that was fine. It was the hickey on her neck that grossed HD out, not her attire, but he was good enough only to say something to me.

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Being a live-in does not automatically make you part of the family – you could be staff – as refer to your HM as your employer. I am speaking about my family and my relationship with our AP. If it was one of the employer/employee then would “strip” down – no – but then I would not do a lot of things either – see above post.

But this is not the relationship we share. I feel relaxed and we behave accordingly, if that means doing my makeup in my underwear in the kitchen while asking her about her day or sharing my excitement for the night ahead, then so be it. AP and I regularly sit in our PJ’s together in the middle of the day watching movies eating chocolate – she had never seen Dirty Dancing – can you believe it!

I would not have it any other way.

I am not speaking for every HF and yes maybe somebody” else would be uncomfortable but not everybody either.

Should be working July 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Apart from the underwear issue (like HostDCMom, I put on a robe only for the AP’s sake, would not otherwise do so, and don’t consider it a big deal), there is here a question about ‘little accommodations’ that I have been interested in. (And I perceive the underwear question here as solvable by a ‘little accommodation’, although clearly others disagree.)

Because our AP is the way she is, I accommodate some little things that I’d prefer were otherwise: lots of shoes in the front hallway; noise from her walking around upstairs more loudly than I’d like; table manners I’m not thrilled with; etc. And I know she is not thrilled with some habits of mine, probably more than I realize, e.g. we like bitter greens in salad; etc.

The problem is when one or more little habits becomes terribly annoying; or the habit is not so little; or the general mood and morale is negative enough (e.g. leading up to rematch) that the little habits seem intolerable. The last post about ‘no one regretting rematch’ made me wonder how much annoyance HPs tolerate before it’s just too much and the mood shifts to a no-going-back feeling–and likely rematch.

EireAuPair July 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm

@CSNanny You talk of your HP as employers, I talk of them as family and I think theres the difference. Of course it was a bit weird at the beginning that my HM “stripped” but she had to the first months cause she was breastfeeding. What should I have expected her to say? “Can you please leave the room.” And yet, she asked me if it was okay for me and I think that even if I said “No” she wouldn’t have done anything else and I cant leave the room everytime she takes off her top…

Now, I just want to make clear that I agree with EuroMom(if you read this…I cant stop laughing). I have absolutely no problem with her although I have to admit that it was really a bit weird and uncomfortable when I was there the first time and she took off her top and bra. But I’m okay with it now otherwise why would I have come back if I wanst okay with that?
I just dont see the point in overreacting in that. I mean if you go swimming with your HP you are more then likely going to see them in a bikini/ swimming shorts.So whats the difference? I mean okay, if she takes off her nightgown -I think she wasn’t wearing ANYTHING under that- I can understand that its uncomfortable.
But I also think that its their house and they can do whatever they want to do. The AP should be treated like a family member but even then, I guess, it is something else for us APs. We wouldn’t even think about running around the house without a top or even naked.
Still, I really think it is okay for HP to do that. (Would you fell uncomfortable too if it wasnt the HM but the HD??)

CS Nanny July 1, 2010 at 12:58 pm

You’re in an aupair. I’m not. I have my own family 5 minutes away. So yes, I do refer to the people I work for as employers because I am no longer an aupair, and therefore do not need a “replacement family” for a year. But am I a part of their family? Absolutley. Just because I refer to them as employers does not change that. The parents and I are very close, and the kids see me more than their parents. And the whole point of this forum is for various inputs and opinions. That does not mean someone is “overreacting.” And yes, I think it would be even worse for a HD to walk around like that. If you are the type of person who is okay with that, then that’s great. And if a family is okay with things like that, then that’s okay too. Everyone is entitled to their opinion without it being right or wrong.

EireAuPair July 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I never said that you’re opinion is wrong, did I? And my opinion is that someone who thinks that way is overreacting. Its just the way I see it. So, I don’t know what you want to tell me there.
Still, I can’t seem to understand why it’s so bad for a HM to walk around in her underwear or for a HD just to wear shorts. Does that mean you wouldn’t go swimming with them? Cause then you would see them exactly that way: HD wearing just shorts and HM wearing a bikini(of course some wear bathing suits as well but that’s the same, isn’t it?)
You have your family 5 minutes away, so what? I have a lovely family who even came to visit me for 10 days over in Germany and I don’t need a second one and yet I am part of this lovely Irish family and don’t just see them as employers…of course they are in a certain way but not only…

NewAPMama July 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I think everyone just needs to take a deep breath. LOL. Everyone has brought up good points. I personally feel like if there was a minor thing that my aupair wanted changed, and she was a great aupair, I would do it. Especially if it just involved putting on a robe when she is around. This situation will never happen in my house, but who knows what could. I think it’s about compromise. At the end of the day, if I have someone who is awesome and treats my kids well, then I can change a few things here or there. Having said that, that goes both ways. I expect to be able to tell my aupair that x, y and z bother me, and if it is reasonable, I would expect her to make the necessary changes.

Euromom July 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I will go back to my mantra – before you even think about having a discussion with anyone (HF’s or AP’s) ask yoursef – how much do it really bother you

And is it worth it?

If I had an au pair that blushed/turned scarlett! and really obviously had an issue with any of my behaviours – would I continue to do it knowing it made her extremely uncomfortable… no absolutely not…

But if I perceived it this be a minor issue (or a pet hate) which she brought up with me – as in it’s this “annoying” / “akward” habit (see OP), …then girl – you will not like my response.

Would you like your HF to tell you all the “annoying” / “awkward” things you do … that they put up with ..

If it falls into the pet hate category the wise thing to do is to keep your mouth firmly closed (and laugh with your friends – think of the stories you can bring home)

Calif mom July 2, 2010 at 10:06 am

Hi Euromom

Maybe I misunderstood your earlier posts, then. I thought you would have told an AP who doesn’t like your stripping down that she would need to hit the highway. I guess your point is more nuanced than that since you *would* care if she were mortified and blushing about your behavior. Could be that your opening statement was more provocative than intended.

This is a fascinating discussion!

I am beginning to view the host-AP relationship as MOSTLY gray area, rather than being mostly black or white with clear role demarcations. As I (re)write and (re)edit our guidebook, those topics that are more variable are the ones where there get to be “too many words”.

Yes there are some firm boundaries, but maybe not as many as we think, and certainly not as many as the agency websites make it sound! I’m visualizing here a Venn diagram of all the issues we work with and through on a daily basis. The trick of it is that these circles grow and shrink each time we welcome a new AP, and each time a kid hits a new developmental stage, or a parent changes jobs, or we all go on vacation, or, or…. The circles swell and shrink over the course of a year with the same AP and family, as well, as the AP shifts from eager newbie to friend-focused to cramming to get it all in before she leaves. On some of those topics, the circle’s boundaries are always more like a permeable membrane.

To me, a key benefit of hosting au pairs is flexibility. But if I expect to benefit from that flexibility it’s also incumbent on me as HM to offer that same flexibility–rooted in thoughtfulness–to our au pairs. One hand washes the other. Thoughtfulness is the basic, fundamental, mutually beneficial ingredient in this relationship.

My kids are long past nursing so I throw on a robe when I hear the dog throwing up in the middle of the night and I’m wearing a nightie. Dad wears jammies. These are small acts that avoid a lot of consternation or embarrassment in the first place with our highly religious AP. For me, avoiding consternation and embarrassment are pretty important. I hate conflict, and I’m (perhaps overly) empathic. (Go ahead, call me a textbook Myers-Briggs ENFP! I’m good with it.)

Does this bother me–do I feel restricted by the decision I made to buy a lightweight robe for summertime and use it? Hardly.

This walking around in a bra thing strikes me as the kind of issue that will show up right away when an AP moves in, and could really be surprising to an unsuspecting girl from a modest family.

It seems to me that if your family walks around the house in your underwear, good on you! But I do think that rather than saying “Hey, it’s my house, live with it” kind of approach, you would be doing yourself a favor and avoid some unnecessary awkwardness if you give potential APs a heads-up during the matching process that you are not modest. This is being thoughtful, and shows that you recognize that it might be an issue for some people, while allowing your family and yourself to live in accordance with your values. Candidates can then self-select out of the running to hang with your clan.

There’s a huge variety in host families as well as APs. I think as long as we are ALL clear about what life with us is like–and I think this semi-partial-nudity could be a very big deal for some people–it will all work out.

Aria July 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

Calif Mom I love your response!!!!

Euromom July 3, 2010 at 4:51 am

@ Calif mom

When it coming to matching I am extremely fortunate as I always arrange for a three day meet & greet when a potential AP will come to stay with us. During this meet, there will be a time when I will be late for an event and might run around the house looking for (God knows what!) in my underwear.

And yes – if I thought that a potential AP might take issue with this aspect in the future – then no, I would not match – that is my right – it is also hers.

However the sentiments I expressed in my original post – “your problem – you deal with it” stand.

It needs to be clear that there are some circumstances in which an AP will have to suck it up… lets be honest they are not equals and sometimes their opinion will:

(a) (at best) not count; and

(b) wake-up a hornet’s nest.

The core issue for me here lies with the fact that the OP is asking about a pet hate i.e. something that annoys / makes her feel awkward. It did NOT cause her great distress or have a huge negative impact on her year with her HF – she had three weeks left when writing it!! In my opinion she (and all AP’s) when it comes to pet hates – need to know when to keep your mouth firmly shut.

If an AP were to approach me with a pet hate – being honest and speaking for myself alone here – I would be furious (and I do mean furious). Here lies the hornet’s nest.

It would:-

(a) Hurt my feelings;
(b) Make me re-evaluate the relationship;
(c) Damage the relationship with my AP.

I personally would see this as a huge mark of disrespect.

It would belittle all the flexibility/sacrifices I made and continue to make on an ongoing basis to welcome her. If AP cared so little for me, my feelings and our relationship that she would air her petty grievances then no you are not the AP for me and I will not continue to invest in this non-relationship.

This is no more than you if you tell a friend……….. “I hate the way you ……” “it drives me nuts when you ….” You will not hold on to many friendships that way will you? Well what makes you thing that my relationship with you would take that sort of pettiness either and please remember I am in MY own home and I am paying you. I most certainly am not going to pay someone to be disrespectful.

Very famous quote here ladies

“Some things are best left unsaid”

Hula Gal July 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

CS Nanny –
I don’t really agree that Euro Mom is being disrespectful. From how I am reading her posts, what she is saying is, if you have a complaint about my behavior because it is something that annoys you than you should just keep it to yourself. I think that Euro Mom is suggesting that au pairs should only bring up issues that are causing significant distress to the au pair and these issues are ones that she would be willing to compromise on in order to make her au pair feel comfortable in her home. The way the original post read – it said that this behavior was an annoyance but it didn’t appear that it was causing major distress for the au pair. I totally agree that if my au pair approached me with something that merely annoyed her (such as the fact that our kitchen is always dirty) I would be ticked off. If it is causing you great distress discuss it with your host parents. If it is just an annoyance, suck it up. If I have misunderstood you Euro Mom, feel free to correct. But this is how I read it.

Aupairgal July 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I have to admit, when I saw the title of this section I was expecting a very very different topic. Can you imagine the crazy discussion we would have there? Hahaha.

Anonymus July 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I was expecting a different topic as well…
Would have been a funny discussion :)

cv harquail July 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I know, that was a ‘teaser’ headline…

Calif mom July 2, 2010 at 10:07 am


Euromom July 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm

@ CS Nanny – I am not being disrespectful, I am being honest.

@ Hula Gal – thank you – it’s nice to have a like minded second opinion around… and yes your understanding is bang on

NY Hostmom July 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I tell our children and our aupairs that the purpose of etiquette and manners is to insure that everyone feels comfortable and welcome. This is important to our family. When we are all home I want to be able to relax and not have to worry that anyone (particularly me :) is feeling uncomfortable. This is very important to me. Every home is different. In our home bedtimes are not strictly enforced, cleaning your room every day is not required, you can eat whatever you are able to find in the fridge, but living together respectfully is an absolute requirement. I think walking around undressed would fall into this category in our home. If it made people feel uncomfortable I would work on curtailing the “stripping down”.

aria July 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

OP here. Wow!! What a discussion. What turned into a purely anecdotal little post has spawned quite an argument! LOL. I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying. Here’s some more info and my take:

I would never dare tell a grown woman who pays my salary what to do in her own house, or what makes me uncomfortable in her house. Like I mentioned in the OP, I don’t actually live with them, I live in an unattached apartment, so I don’t see their house as ‘my’ house either. What she does in her house is her business.

HOWEVER. (And maybe I’m being a prude here; I’m not sure) Her habit of walking around in sheer nightdresses and bra and panties does make me uncomfortable; it’s inappropriate, in my frank opinion. Sometimes, she changes while I’m giving the kids their bath (her bathroom) and I get an eyeful- I don’t mind that. It’s normal; I’m not *that* much of a prude. But like in my example- she ended up going to her room from the kitchen anyway- was it really necessary to give me and the kids a striptease like that?

When she’s done it before, she always somehow brings attention to it. “Oh, I’m half naked, come in! Hahaha!” “You can come in while I’m changing my clothes, I really don’t mind!” “It’s no more than you would see in a bathing suit!”

I somehow get the impression that she knows it makes me uncomfortable (I always avert my eyes or look away or leave the room) and she does it anyway; why? I don’t really know- I also think she secretly or unconsciously or whatever- wants to show that she’s still ‘got it’- mind you, she never acts this way around her husband. Only when it’s just me and the kids.

I didn’t mean to spark such a debate- it was really more just like a ‘what do you think? isn’t this a bit weird?’ Thanks for the opinions! :)

Aupairgal July 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Honestly, I wish my HP were naked people. This may seem strange to many, but I miss being able to walk around naked where I live. I have always been very comfortable with nudity.

cv harquail July 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Who knew semi-nudity would be such an interesting thing for us to talk about?!

MeAgain July 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

hahaha! It doesn’t mean that because your HF are “naked people” u automatically have the right to be nude in their house also….LOL

Aupairgal July 2, 2010 at 3:33 am

It is with most families I know.

cv harquail July 2, 2010 at 6:55 am

That’s an interesting question, whether it’s okay for an Au Pair to walk around in her underwear if host mom does. That might be a double standard, and that also might be a situation where what’s a privilege for the host parent is not really okay for the au pair. Me in my undies = scary. My lovely au pairs in their undies = Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. cv

PA AP mom July 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I just laughed out loud, CV, at your last sentence because it is dead-on for the situation at our house too!!! Let me assure you that no one, AP or otherwise, ever wants to see me in my underwear!!!

HRHM July 2, 2010 at 8:15 am

I think there is a big difference between breast feeding in front of your AP or walking down the hall in your t-shirt in undies in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, vs pulling off your shirt at the table on a routine basis. In case #1, this is an activity that actually bares fairly little skin and HAS to happen many times per day, so pretty impractical to leave the room all the time. #2 happens when you are unlikely to be seen. But #3 – if you spill on your shirt, can’t you just go up to your room and change? As far as the “family” thing is concerned, we are “naked people” when we don’t have an AP. DH and I are frequently unclothed in various states in front of the kids and each other, and the kids are constantly taking off their clothes as well. But, when my Dad or sister & BIL are in the house we don’t do it (well the kids do, but they’re pretty little). Just because I think of someone as family, doesn’t mean I want to constantly show them my stuff. Besides, part of treating someone as family is respecting that they might be uncomfortable with you wandering around the house in your bloomers.

And NOOOOO, I would not want our APs walking around in their undies either – no matter how good or bad they look.

MommyMia July 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Amen, HRHM! And as our kids get older, we’re trying to teach them that while you love your body, it’s not OK to strip down anytime you feel like it and run around the house, as they loved to do as toddlers!

NoVA Host Mom July 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I think that we have now gotten this discussion into two branches.

The original, excluding the fact that the AP has decided to wait until the end of her year to bring it up, addresses the impact of having another person, many others in fact, moving into your house as part of their employment. In my house have concessions been made? Absolutely! Have we adjusted anything we really hold to? Absolutely not! Yes, while my husband did not previously, he now dons shorts and a tee shirt when leaving the bedroom to attend to children, put out the dogs, etc. Do I run around the house in my towel looking for the clean panties/shaving gel/whatever I suddenly figured out was not in the master suite when I needed it? Nope. I have always had a bathrobe, but now I wear it for those such excursions. I have lighter robes for over my PJs, especially if I didn’t wear a bra to bed. But really, we are all, as HPs, likely making some sort of concession in this process. We try to make sure certain drinks or requested foods are in the house, and these are things we would not have purchased for ourselves.

Are there things that are in the grey area of “for X we have no problem giving a bit, however if Y (the underperforming Princess, for example) were to ask there would not even be a second thought to it? Yup. I’m human and not everything in life is fair. It is our home and while Y is with us for only a year, we are likely going to be having APs for the long term (unless HD or I suddenly retire or changes careers entirely). Again, it is not entirely a democracy in the home. We pay the bills, so the heat and a/c are set where we are comfortable. We don’t order out for a fancy dinner every night. And no, you may not paint (or rather have HD paint) “your” room a midnight blue for the 1 year you are with us.

That said, if something was truly making our NEW AP uncomfortable, I would expect her to bring it to our attention. Either it is something we can work with or not, but since no one knows without asking, may as well bring it up. If it’s a no-go, then we both know that either we all need to live with it, or look to the next step. But it’s better to be upfront about things.

Now for the second branch of this post — the fact that the OP has decided that while she claims to have been uncomfortable, she was not so uncomfortable as to mention it in the beginning of her year. She held onto this little “gem” of a gripe until her exit. IMHO, that is just spiteful and without merit. There are likely tons of things the AP did that annoyed the HF, but they made the decision that they can live with it for the year. Do not expect that they will bring it up as you are leaving. There is nothing to be gained from that, and in the words of a favorite show (since cancelled): it is inelegant.

I would also consider it suspect, the timing of this news flash to the HF. What would be gained by bringing it up now? Very little except a childish self-satisfaction that most adults (hopefully) have learned is unnecessary in life.

Anonymous July 9, 2010 at 9:12 am

You may laugh but I think my HM really is a stripper. I am not AuPair in US so I not here with agency. Of course HM tell me she working for lawyer company and I believed. She is home a lot during the day telling me she only working part-time. But nights, she goes out ALL time! I awake once when she come home so I saw her clothes she wearing: really short and almost nothing…She really looked scared when she see me and not talking to me since that…What I can do?

Sorry, for my aweful English, I still learn :)

ST July 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm

If I’m not mistaken, the original poster is an American au pair in France. Having grown up in Europe myself I now live in the U.S. In my opinion, this is just a cultural difference between (most) countries in Europe and the U.S. I just came across the following article a few days ago and found it insightful. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38107946/

Jan July 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Good article but I say let the Europeans remain nude and the Americans prude. There are some forms of nudity that I, being a prudish American, don’t mind. For example, many eons ago I traveled on an overnight train through France. As I tried to settle in to sleep the handsome young man beside me stripped down to nothing and promptly fell asleep! I kind of liked his nudity, but I would not want to see your average, middle aged, overweight American male naked. Where something like 30% of the population is overweight and 20% obese, clothing is not optional but an absolute must!

Aupair Mama July 11, 2010 at 1:15 am

I find it odd that aupairs would be offended. … Seems like the majority of aupairs are from Germany and Brazil .. And having aupairs from these countries b4 I know most of them think NOTHING of bearing a little skin themselves on most days. If a HM feels comfortable stripping down bc of getting a stain or something, I don’t find it a big deal. I wish I could do that … Often times I am out of the shower and forget a towel or need something in the laundry room …I want to just run over there and get what I need … but then I think aupair might ‘show up’ and ‘see’ me and I have to hunt around for a robe or something.

Carlos June 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

This topic is funny xD

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